Saturday, December 29, 2007

I Love Lily Allen.

Yup, we're in the height of the holidays, and probably eating much more than we're used to (I know I am! Belch). So, I thought I'd share this little PSA from one of the best musical exports from England - Lily Allen.

If you've never heard of her, shame on you, and check out her single, "Smile."

And if this doesn't brighten your day, then watch one of those damn Rankin-Bass movies...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holidays from violent activists...

Arsonists set fire to an Albuquerque abortion clinic on the night of Dec. 6th, destroying its exam room.

Witnesses staying at a nearby hotel said the two suspects dumped a can of gasoline through a window and then set it ablaze. Fortunately, no staff was present during the fire.

Officials are conducting a thorough investigation and plan to check hospitals for anyone admitted for "accidental" burns...

The clinic, Abortion Acceptance of Albuquerque, is run by Dr. Curtis Boyd. He is a founding member of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and has been providing services in New Mexico since 1972.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Teen birth rates rise - wtf?!

Looks like we're finally starting to see the effects of abstinence-only education. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data on U.S. births in 2006. For the first time since 1991, the rate of teen births increased – kind of a big deal, since we had been experiencing a steady decline for the past 14 years.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2002, only 62% of sexually experienced female teens had received instruction about contraception before they first had sex, compared with 72% in 1995. Coincidence? I think not...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Excuse me, can I have some salt for my placenta?

What's new and exciting in the world of new motherhood? Placentas! Apparently, a woman who ingests her own placenta has a better chance of avoiding postpartum depression and the "baby blues."

While there's no scientific research yet, women across the country swear by it. It makes sense, when you consider the hormone factor. The placenta contains estrogen and progesterone, both which sharply decline in women right after childbirth. Some women say ingesting the placenta stabilizes these hormone levels.

Now before you all get visuals of post-delivery women scooping their afterbirths off the floor and chowing down, it's not like that. Guides for eating placenta recommend adding it to lasagna or as a pizza topping. Squisito!

Jodi Selander dried hers, grinded it up into powder and made capsules. She now sells placenta encapsulation kits on the Internet.

Sure, it sounds weird in a bad sci-fi movie kinda way, but Selander makes a good point:

"We have a very sanitary society. Anything that is not cleaned up and pretty and made to be put on display, we do deem as gross. But the thing is, birth is a messy process and the whole act of bringing life into the world is a whole messy ordeal."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Giuliani: Not so much the beacon of moderate politics.

Some of us kinda chuckled when Rudy Giuliani announced his presidential candidacy. Why on earth would the Grand Old Party (home to Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition) throw its support behind the former mayor of New York City, who publicly asserts he is pro-choice and pro-gay rights?? Jerry Falwell is convulsing in his grave.

An odd stance for a Republican, that's for sure. But with how incredibly polarized the parties have become today, it's somewhat refreshing to find someone brave enough to walk outside his party line....right?

Well, just how "pro-choice" are you, Mr. G? Sure, you throw that word around to pique the liberals' interests, but honestly, just how does your party tolerate you?

Taking a closer look at Giuliani's record, he's pretty damn similar to an anti-choice Republican - the only difference is that he calls himself "pro-choice."

Like his anti-choice cronies, Giuliani supports parental notification laws and the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban (a false medical term used to describe the dilation-and-extraction method). He also said he'd appoint "strict constructionist" judges to the Supreme Court, similar to Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Samuel Alito (his examples) - all of which are anti-choice and do not support Roe v. Wade.

When Giuliani first ran for NYC mayor in 1989, he assured his Republican party that he personally opposed abortion. Public funding? Ew, no! Roe v. Wade? Yucky!

I guess as Election Day loomed closer, Rudy realized he couldn't possibly win anything in New York Fucking City if he was anti-abortion. He issued a statement in the New York Times:

"As mayor, Rudy Giuliani will uphold a woman's right of choice to have an abortion. Giuliani will fund all city programs which provide abortions to insure that no woman is deprived of her right due to an inability to pay. He will oppose reductions in state funding. He will oppose making abortion illegal. Although Giuliani is personally opposed to abortion, his personal views will not interfere with his responsibilities as mayor."

Too little, too late - Giuliani lost the election on account of his flip-flopping, but won in 1993. Not because he changed anything regarding his views on abortion - he just started calling himself "pro-choice." Hey, it's what New Yorkers wanted to hear.

And now, Rudy's using what he learned and applying it to his campaign for the presidency: Run as a "pro-choicer," so you can gain some liberal votes, but promise your conservative base that you're really on their side - all while making a mockery of the issues.

Good strategy, Rudy - now go home and curl up on Pat Robertson's lap. You know, the evangelist guy who's endorsing you? The one who agreed with Jerry Falwell when he said we got what we deserved on 9/11 because of "abortionists"...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toot My Horn Tuesday: Double Whammy

The Crazy Christians are going green. (rhrealitycheck)


Calling out the double standard. (teenwire)

Domestic Dynamics, Part II

Yeah, we're back on this again. I feel like yesterday's post started some things that need finishing - or at least some expanding...

So, studies have shown that despite men's increased involvement in matters of the home/family, women still put in more time and have more difficulty balancing family and work. Because women are recognizing the massive amounts of stress and sacrifice it takes to raise a child, they are more understanding of the decision to remain childless.

And now for the million dollar question: why are men are still spending less time parenting? I do not have a deep-rooted hate for men (cause, let's clarify - that is not what feminism is about), so I refuse to believe men aren’t putting in the hours because they are miserable, heartless, and selfish Neanderthals.

So, what then? Is it work? Is parenting something men feel women do better? What affects how men and women parent?

On, I found an excerpt from the book, "Work and Family – Allies Or Enemies?" by Stewart D. Friedman and Jeffrey H. Greenhaus. Friedman was the director of the Ford Motor Company’s Leadership Development Center from 1999-2001, and teaches at UPenn’s Wharton School of Business. Greenhaus is a professor of management at Drexel.

In their study of 861 professionals, Friedman and Greenhaus found that that on the whole, those who brought home higher incomes had lower parental performance.

"With all that money can buy for children, a high income still does not overcome a serious problem kids face when their parents (especially their fathers) are so psychologically involved in work that they cannot attend well to the demands of being a parent."

Interestingly, income levels affected men and women differently when they evaluated their own parenting skills.

"Mothers who want money and power from their careers feel that their children receive higher-quality care than do mothers who have lower career aspirations and who care less about wealth. Yet it is the opposite for fathers: the less a father aspires to hierarchical advancement, the better he feels about his performance as a parent. And the lower the value a father places on wealth, the better he feels about the care his children receive."

F&G say that women who have high aspirations for career success have higher self-esteem, which "enhances her capacity to care for her children and to arrange for effective childcare." Conversely, men who aren’t as work-centered feel they are better parents because they are more available to their families.

But the authors remind us that just because you make a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be a lousy parent. "What is really operating here is that intense psychological involvement in career leads to the perception of lower parental performance."

It’s not the income itself, but the associations we have around higher salaries (i.e. I put in a ton of hours and sacrificed a lot for this). What really determines one’s parenting is the flexibility of their job, how good they feel about their work, and being in an environment that is sensitive to personal and family needs.

So, maybe it’s simply the high-powered, high-earning execs that aren’t stepping up when it comes to the kids? And just because they’re not putting in as much time as their wives, that doesn’t necessarily mean, a) they don’t want to; and b) they don’t feel bad about it.

After all that, I really don’t think I answered the question at all. Not like I expected this post to be the end-all of the debate. If I had the answer to unequal parenting, I’d probably be doing something much more lucrative than writing this blog. It’s a step, though – to understanding what affects men and women and how they operate in and out of the home.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Closer Look at Domestic Dynamics

My bad.

Unfortunately, I have to work harder on making sure I back up my opinions with facts and reliable sources rather than just going off on a tangent, thinking that what I'm saying is common knowledge.

Over the weekend, one of my readers said he disagreed with a line from my post, "Gone Daddy Gone" (11/7/07):

"...the final choice should be the woman's, since she bears most of the responsibility of carrying, birthing and rearing the child."

He said he agrees that women are (biologically) on their own when it comes to pregnancy and labor. However, he reminded me that men are much more involved with raising children nowadays, and the generalization of the distant father who doesn't lift a finger is not true.

He's right - you're more likely to find stay-at-home-dads in 2007 than 1987, and more businesses offer paternity leave in addition to maternity leave. In an age where more women are working and pursuing success in their careers, more men are stepping up and recognizing the need to share the work of parenting.

I know gender roles in the household are changing, but it had seemed (to me) that women still do more than men when it comes to raising children. Maybe I was stuck on that generalization? I thought maybe I spoke too soon (and too harshly) about the guys...

I needed some evidence - something more trustworthy than my personal thoughts - and came across a recent study by Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, a sociologist at the University of Florida. Her study, featured in the November 2007 issue of The Journal of Marriage and Family, shows that women have a more positive view of childlessness than men, "likely because parenting places greater demands on mothers, especially those juggling work and family responsibilities."

Koropeckyj-Cox says, "Although fathers have become more involved in childcare and housework in recent decades, they provide fewer hours and generally less intensive care on average than mothers."

Interesting. Not only are women still carrying more of the child care load, but because of this, they are more accepting of the idea of not having children at all.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Leave it to the news to scare the shit out of us.

I was watching the charming and debonair Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News Tuesday evening, and just when I was about to turn the channel - a teaser for a MAJORLY IMPORTANT story for any woman on birth control! "Oh my!" I thought. Better tune in!

Apparently, women who have used oral contraceptives for over a year are at increased risk of atherosclerosis - or plaque buildup in the arteries. I wish I could link to the broadcast of that segment, but for some reason, when I click on NBC's link, it never opens - maybe others will have better luck...

If you can't open it either and it's lost forever, take my word for it - the segment was one of the most dramatic things I've ever seen. The woman reporting urged EVERY WOMAN IN AMERICA WHO IS TAKING ORAL CONTRACEPTIVES to CALL YOUR GYNECOLOGIST RIGHT AWAY! MONITOR your cholesterol and blood pressure!! OH MY GOD!! GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! ANY DOCTOR! RIGHT AWAY! GO NOW!! LORD HAVE MERCY, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

Holy shit. Like I didn't already know my smoking habits are a big no-no with my birth control - now this?! I've been on the pill for seven years, and my blood pressure/cholesterol/overall health is I just lucky? According to this nut, I should be pushing up daisies (Or at least spending the rest of my life in assisted living for irresponsible 20-somethings who thought they were invincible and screwed up big time).

Well, I put my mind at ease after reading the actual news story - with quotes from Ernst Rietzschel, the head researcher who led the study.

"Rietzschel said he did not think the findings should trigger alarms about the safety of the pill. 'Bottom line - don't discontinue your pill suddenly. Don't panic. Don't call your gynecologist tomorrow morning,' Rietzschel said."

Hmm. That doesn't exactly sound like the call to action that woman on NBC was spewing Tuesday night....

But as long as mainstream media can raise our fears to frenzy status, we'll spend the money to calm ourselves down....

For more info on just how fucked up your TV is, visit FAIR.

Benazir Bhutto Under House Arrest

Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf ordered opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, under house arrest this morning. Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on November 3 (in other words, martial law), and has been receiving heavy criticism from Bhutto and her supporters, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to be elected Prime Minister of Pakistan back in 1988. Unfortunately, she was removed on corruption charges that are still being investigated...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gone Daddy Gone

A friend of mine brought this story to my attention, and it sparked some great conversation...

Basically, some "men's rights activists" are saying if a woman legally has a choice to keep a pregnancy, end it, adopt, etc., then a man should be able to choose if he wants to pay child support.

In this particular case, the woman knew her partner did not want children, and as far as she knew (I'd like to know more details here), she was unable to get pregnant due to a medical condition.

Apparently, she beat the odds and - voila - she is with child.

To be honest, when my friend first told me about this story, I laughed. A lot. It all just seemed too ridiculous to bring before the courts. Apparently, the judge thought so, too...

"State courts have ruled in the past that any inequity experienced by men like Dubay is outweighed by society's interest in ensuring that children get financial support from two parents."

This case brings up a good point that many feminists don't want to talk about: men's involvement in child-creating, bearing, and rearing.

In a perfectly stable, loving relationship with open communication (which seems incredibly rare nowadays), if the woman becomes pregnant, she will most likely talk over her options with her partner. It's the respectful thing to do, but really, the final choice should be the woman's, since she bears most of the responsibility of carrying, birthing and rearing the child. This all goes on in her body, not his.

However, when I was discussing this story yesterday, it occurred to me how many women don't want their men involved at all in talks of pregnancy - yet when the child arrives, they're upset that men aren't very involved or helpful fathers.

Not really sure if there's a good answer for this...just bringing up a point...

Monday, November 5, 2007

The case for biology.

I'm starting to read Louann Brizendine's "The Female Brain" (saw it at Border's and couldn't help myself). She's a neuropsychiatrist, graduated from Yale and UC Berkeley, taught at Harvard Med School - hence, I figure she knows her stuff.

According to Brizendine, there is scientific proof that women's brains are wired waaay differently than men, and that there are actual biological tendencies at work - like the need to nurture, what a woman looks for in a potential mate, etc.

I really can't argue with science, but I personally think our society/culture also has a lot to do with how men and women behave - and Brizendine agrees (she also mentions in her introduction that she was active during the second wave of the feminist movement, so at least I know she's coming from somewhat of a good place).

But back to the scientific stuff, apparently women put their efforts toward creating close relationships and bonds with people; men are more interested in being at the top of their social group. Women are also more adept in communication, speaking more often and faster than men, who can go for hours without verbal exchanges. Hormones play a huge role, as well - especially when a girl enters puberty and estrogen levels surge. Even during a woman's normal menstrual cycle, one week she's sharp, witty and on top of the world - the next, she's slower, irritable, and her self-esteem hangs by a thread. Most women can relate: all of the sudden, your partner thinks you're ugly, your friends hate you, and why did your boss hire you for this job anyway? Some men are quick to label this as completely irrational female craziness - but it's biology.

Now, I know a lot of feminists loathe the word "biology" - it's the anti-feminist explanation for sexism, a way to generalize men and women and hold them to standards for what each sex should be doing. I think completely relying on biology to tell us about men and women is ridiculous, but so is completely ignoring it. As humans on Earth, we don't operate in a vacuum. Culture and society have changed incredibly since the Stone Age - there are certain biological tendencies and behaviors that are probably still present, but maybe we don't quite need anymore for basic survival.

Men and women are inherently different - I will argue that til I'm blue in the face - but where my feminism comes from is the belief that one is not better than the other.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Not again.

I thought it was rigoddamndiculous when Hillary Clinton's cleavage became big news, so you can imagine how very un-thrilled I am with this.

It's real cute how they try to be balanced by mentioning "Fred Thompson's facial creases" and "the dark circles under Giuliani's eyes," but who's their real bread and butter? "Candidates for Mom of the Year."


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I better never run into this guy...

So, this garbage actually made "Best of Craigslist." Not only is it completely sexist and hateful, but it really just sounds like some dude's pathetic attempt at revenge the day after he had his heart broken.

Wah Wah Wah. Quit your whining.

I wasn't sure about posting this at first (why the hell would I want to further publicize this sad, sad piece of crap?), but what the hell. After all, my whole point is to draw attention to sexism that's floating around out there, all comfortable and shit like it's normal...

Thanks to Feministing for original post.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Big girls don't cry

The beat goes on.

And by "beat," I mean raging sexism and ridiculous double standards.

Many experts would agree that crying is a human reaction - a coping mechanism brought on by certain emotions and feelings. Of course, in a polarized culture such as ours - where everything is black/white, good/evil, right/wrong, male/female - human reations are not going to be viewed the same if they're coming from different sexes.

Apparently, it's now fashionable for men to shed tears in public (just a few!) - but if women do, well then, they're just as crazy and irrational as we always thought they were!

Two words: Bull. Shit. Not that it was any better for men to be viewed as weak if their eyes welled up, but why should something so natural as crying be seen as sensitivity in men and insanity in women?

Remember Ellen DeGeneres' recent outburst of emotion on her talk show? I watched the segment on the Internet and thought, "Wow, she really feels terrible - I hope everything works out." However, comic Bill Maher thought differently; that it's probably not a good idea for womankind to be showing large-scale emotions at a time when one of our own is running for office. "If I was a woman," he said, "I would be embarrassed right now. I would be embarrassed for all womankind."

Embarrassed? Wow. Hear that, ladies? Suck it up - if not for yourselves, for Hillary...because she is a reflection of all women, and we are all a reflection of her capability.

(Just to clarify, that was sarcasm.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Foxes in the henhouse

Last week, President Bush appointed Susan Orr to head federal family planning programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Maybe this wouldn't be such a big deal if Orr wasn't quoted as saying contraception is part of "the culture of death."

Yup, here we go again. No surprise that Bush seeks out other nutty die-hard conservatives to oversee federal programs, not because they are by any means qualified - but because they've shown their loyalty to the Grand Old Party. For instance, not only does Orr disapprove of birth control, but she also supports abstinence-only education, was an adjunct professor at televangelist Pat Robertson’s Regent University, and wrote "Real Women Stay Married" back in 2000. In the paper, Orr said that women should "think about focusing our eyes, not upon ourselves, but upon the families we form through marriage."

She sounds like the perfect candidate to head anything related to FAMILY PLANNING. Right.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Weirdo of the day: Phil Kline

Phil Kline, former Kansas state attorney general, is continuing his quest to make life suck for abortion providers. Kline recently filed a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges against Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. He claims the health center provided illegal late-term abortions.

Kline has a history of messing with Planned Parenthood. In a previous suit, "he sought the names and personal information of women and girls who had had abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic and one other medical facility." Um, last time I checked, medical records were private...

On a positive note, it seems most everyone knows Kline is a weirdo. Now a Johnson County district attorney, Kline lost the state attorney general seat to Democrat Paul Morrison. Turns out people weren't too thrilled with the idea of Kline involving evangelical churches in his campaign operation...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Modern Romance

Apparently guys are more into intimacy than we thought...

In a recent study by Catherine Mosher (Duke U.) and Sharon Danoff-Burg (U. of Albany), 237 college undergrads were asked about their priorities when it comes to career goals, romantic relationships, friendships, etc. - and what they would sacrifice for romance.

"Overall, 61 percent of the guys chose a romantic relationship rather than achievement goals, while 51 percent of gals chose romance. The boys and men were particularly more likely to swap a career, education and traveling for 'charming companions'."

Reeeeeeally? Sounds incredibly comforting, since the boys have a nasty reputation for shunning commitment until the possibility of dying old, crusty and alone is all of the sudden pretty freakin' real. But, don't start planning the big day just yet, Bridezilla...

We see from the results that more dudes picked romance - but how they specifically define romance is the real question. Daniel Kruger, a social and evolutionary psychologist at the U. of Michigan comments, "Maybe for the men they're thinking close romantic relationship, but that doesn't necessarily mean long-term commitment of getting married and having children."

So, what is it we're seeing here? Are women evolving past the societal expectation that we'll follow the yellow brick road to old age with a husband, 2.5 children and a white picket fence? Or - is proverbial, old school, Cary Grant-like romance officially dead and been replaced with, "I get horny an awful lot, and I'd love for you to be around"?

I'm not saying marriage is right or wrong, feminist or unfeminist - I believe in people doing what they feel is right for themselves and not stifling a part of their personality because they think they need to fit into a certain role. That being said, about half my friends want to get married (or are already engaged) and half aren't entertaining the thought whatsoever. For my generation, marriage is not so much a rite of passage, but a life choice. Today, you can't seriously date someone and automatically expect that in 5 years, tops, your beau will get down on one knee. If a person does want to marry, though, they probably should find out early on if their partner is on board or not (better now than later, right?). But, when do you even bring up these life goals, and decide if you and Mr./Ms. Right are truly compatible - when most of these goals are so long-term, they're not even relevant?

Yeah, kids - this is the shit you don't see in the movies.

Toot My Horn Tuesday

My first article for RH Reality Check was published today! Check it out here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Body love

This list is from Courtney Martin via Feministing - it's so kick-ass, I just had to post it:

Ten Things You Can Do Right Now to Love Your Body

1. Make the radical choice to commit to healing your relationship with your body.

2. Never diet. Never ever. It is a $31 billion industry that fails 95% of the time. That's just stupid.

3. Reconnect with your authentic hungers. When are you hungry? When are you full? What are you hungry for?

4. Move in ways (African dance, yoga, running, sex...) that make you feel happy instead of adhering to strict fitness regimens.

5. Add a compassionate voice to the chorus in your head.

6. Don't spend money on products made by companies that make you feel inadequate. Duh.

7. Stop hanging out with toxic people that make you feel bad about yourself.

8. Change conversations about weight to conversations about wellbeing.

9. Nominate someone for the REAL Hot 100.

10. Redefine your notion of success to include your own wellness - including joy, fulfillment, resilience, and self-love.


Ask any woman - we bond over how much we hate our bodies. Really, it's pretty fucked up. And I don't claim to be above all the crap that tries to keep us hating ourselves - it's something I struggle with, too (especially because I consider myself a feminist, and I feel like I should be past it all). But think about it: a group of women are talking about how much they've eaten this week, how much they hate their thighs, how wide they think their asses are - if there's a woman there who has nothing negative to say about her body, if she's totally comfortable in her own skin, then she's looked at differently. Cause, geez, how could she not have anything negative to say? Who does she think she is?

Why is it weird to be comfortable with our own bodies?? And why is it so fucking normal to hate yourself??

Check out Courtney's book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Birth control in middle school

King Middle School will now offer prescription birth control in the student health center, making them the first middle school in the state of Maine to offer a full range of contraception to students in 6th-8th grade.

Students who have parental permission to be treated at the school's health center are eligible to request birth control without notifying their parents.

Although only 2 out of 12 members of the Portland school board voted against offering contraceptives, feelings among parents are mixed. Check out some of the reader comments
following the story in The Portland Press Herald...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cause college chicks really don't know what they want.

Apparently, that's what Austin Scott thinks.

The Penn State University football player was charged with raping a woman in his campus apartment on October 5.

Scott told police the two went back to his place after some drinks, and the woman said she was not going to have sex with him. Scott added, "Girls will say that they do not want to have sex with you, but then they get to your room."

Ok, let's clear a few things up here:

1.) If a woman meets you for drinks, that does not mean she wants you to have sex with her.
2.) If a woman gets a little tipsy, that does not mean she wants you to have sex with her.
3.) If a woman says she does not want to have sex with you, that does not mean she really wants to have sex with you.
4.) If a woman watches TV with you while sitting in bed, that does not mean she wants you to have sex with her.
5.) If a woman lets you "cop a feel," that still does not mean she also wants your dick in her.

Do I need to keep going???

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spotlight on teen dating abuse

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I'd like to give a shout-out to, The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. It's a fantastic resource for teens experiencing intimate partner violence - not to mention their concerned parents, friends and anyone who'd like more information on the subject. Since the site launched last year, their 24-hour helpline has had over 6,118 phone and live chat contacts.

People hear "intimate partner violence" or "domestic violence," and they tend to think of it as an adult issue - but that's not the case. According to, 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner.

And abuse isn't just physical; it can be mental and emotional - and just as debilitating.

So ladies, make sure your partner treats you well. And forget all the emo bullshit: no one intentionally hurts the one they love.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Did you remember your gender today?

Khadijah Farmer never expected to be bullied and humiliated at a New York City restaurant.

She, her girlfriend and another friend went out to the Caliente Cab Company after New York's Gay Pride Parade last June. When Farmer left her party to use the women's restroom, a bouncer followed her in, banged on her stall door and demanded she leave. Farmer, who opts for men's suits rather than makeup, attempted to show the bouncer her ID - to prove she was "woman enough" to use the women's room. The employee refused to listen to Farmer, and proceeded to throw her and her friends out.

It's no surprise many people are uncomfortable with ambiguous ways of exhibiting gender, but honestly, I can't see how Farmer was hurting anyone or creating a dangerous atmosphere by being herself. In short: who fucking cares?! Who cares what people wear or how they define themselves, as long as they are comfortable with who they are?

Michael Silverman, staff attorney from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund of New York City, said it best this morning on the Today show:

"In this case, we believe the fundamental issue is, who gets to decide whether someone’s gender expression is appropriate? Is it Khadijah, or is it every bouncer in a restaurant? Is it every employer or manager who says, ‘Well, would you try a strand of pearls? Maybe that would make you look more feminine. Maybe we’d like you more in the workplace’?"

There's some food for thought.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guys, please be responsible and pop some pills.

It takes two to tango, if ya know what I mean (wink, wink). Now, medical researchers are finally applying that old cliche to birth control options. That's right fellas - you will soon have more contraceptive choices than the good old love glove.

Hang on to your pill packs, ladies - the male birth control pill is a-comin'! The manly version of the oral contraceptive could be out on the market within five to seven years. And don't worry dudes, there's no estrogen here - the hormones in the male pill are strictly testosterone and progestin, which apparently lower sperm count when used together.

And pills are only the beginning - implants could be approved even sooner! For those who aren't familiar with implants, I'm not talkin' saline. The women's version, Norplant (which is now off the market and being replaced with Implanon), consists of six little hormone-filled plastic rods about the size of matchsticks. A health care professional inserts them in her upper arm and they're effective for five years. Implanon is one rod, instead of Norplant's six, and stays effective for up to three years.

Ah yes, the joys of pregnancy prevention can now be shared by the men in our life - right on :)


After much - uh, bullshit - the city of Aurora, Illinois allowed Planned Parenthood of the Chicago Area to open the doors of its new health center on October 1st! For a little more background on the controversy, check out this little beauty from the archives.

Take that, anti-choice weirdos!

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm not being sexist, this is just funny.

At a meeting of infectious disease scientists, the "hand-washing police" announced their survey findings on gender and hygeine...

"One-third of men didn't bother to wash after using the bathroom, compared with 12 percent of women, said the researchers who spy on people in public restrooms."


Friday, September 14, 2007

Well, duh!

This seems like a no-brainer - but then again, have you seen all the surgery shit on TV lately?!

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announced in the September issue of its medical journal that "vaginal rejuvenation" surgeries are not guaranteed to be safe - or, for that matter, necessary.

"Dr. Abbey Berenson, who helped write the guidelines, said some women may be fooled by deceptive marketing practices into thinking they need the surgery because they are somehow abnormal."

Great. Another body part we "need" to be worried about.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sex, lies and gender roles

Who knew I’d have some serious archives when I just started this thing?! Really, though – today I’m posting this “essay” (sounds academic, eh?) I wrote a year ago after I finished reading Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy. I cleaned it up and made some edits to reflect acquired knowledge…

She addresses what she calls the "raunch culture" of today: Girls Gone Wild, Playboy, strip clubs, the porn industry, etc. and how women are embracing it all. It's more acceptable (and even considered “cool”) for women to go to strips clubs and be into porn. Stripping and posing nude don’t even carry such a stigma anymore. In fact, it's just the opposite - strippers and porn stars have a huge fan base that includes a large number of women. Back in the day, if a celebrity had a sex tape surface, it would destroy their career - now, their popularity increases tenfold (i.e. Paris Hilton). Posing in Playboy used to be something you had to bounce back from - now, it's something stars do to boost their careers.

With all these changes in the acceptability of the sex industry on the female front, one would say, “Hell yeah we are finally sexually liberated!” But Levy says, not so much.

I think what she’s trying to convey is that women simply acting like men in this regard is attempting to spread sexual liberation with the "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" mentality – which is self-defeating. And she says that supporting this "raunch culture" is still degrading to women even if the supporter is female. This tells women that they need to be "sexy" (adhering to the examples of the perfectly airbrushed role models), but not necessarily derive any sexual pleasure for themselves. Sex has become commodified; packaged and able to be sold. Now, to be "sexy" there’s a slew of stuff you have to buy and procedures you have to sit through in order to meet the standard. Sex is becoming less about mutual pleasure and more about accumulation. What’s disturbing is her chapter on high school students, who had said in interviews that "putting notches on their belts" is what popularity is built on. Sex isn't a source of enjoyment for them, but almost like shopping for new clothes to look better than their peers. Add to this abstinence-only sex education, which tells hormonal adolescents to "just say no" and leaves out information about contraception, birth control, STDs, pregnancy, abortion and good old fashioned masturbation. School is telling them one thing, yet they step outside into the real world and sex is everywhere.

Prime example – The Fox Network. Studies have shown there to be more sexual content on its prime time programs than any of the other biggies (ABC, NBC, etc.) – yet, they REFUSE to run any commercials for condoms. I don’t think I need to explain the pure stupidity of this.

Now, I've never held a stance strongly for or against porn - it can be a handy-dandy tool (wink, wink) and I always kinda figured if a woman wants to strip, be in porn or pose nude – and that's how she feels powerful – then great for her. If we want to break down archaic gender roles, wouldn't that include women exhibiting characteristics that were traditionally thought of as "male" and claiming them as their own? And if that's the case, then why is it such a negative thing for men to exhibit traditionally "feminine" characteristics?

I’m going to sidetrack here and mention some words of wisdom from’s Jessica Valenti. Her book Full Frontal Feminism addresses this very question: What is the worst thing you can call a man? A woman. Think about it: girl, pussy, sissy, bitch – aside from being called a gay man (fag, homo, etc.), why is being called female an ultimate insult? Please discuss.

I would say we are a hell of a lot more liberated sexually then, say the 1950s – but in 2004, half the country voted to ban gay marriage. That doesn't exactly exude sexual liberation to me.

I think it's important to remember that there are so many ways for one to express themselves sexually and different people find different things sexy and appealing. It's part of who we are; no one had to teach us how to feel. But, what's considered sexy in society is very limited. And where’s the fun in that??

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Toot My Horn Tuesday

Here's a little piece I just did for Planned Parenthood's website for teens,

If for no other reason, at least read it 'cause it's on man-boobs.

Britney's "Bulge"

Ok - I'll be the first to say I'm not a fan of Britney Spears AT all. No one who witnessed her much-anticipated opener for the MTV Video Music Awards can disagree that her performance was fucking terrible.

In the Rules According to Me, recording artists with real tangible talent don't need to lip sync. And maybe I would have even cut Brit some slack if she were putting on some kind of fantabulous dancing extravaganza - but no. She didn't really do much of anything spectacular or sweat-inducing, compared to her previous over-the-top perfomances.

Well, as soon as the celeb news and blogging communities ran out of material to describe her stage presence, the next target was - you guessed it - her weight.

Come the fuck on!! That was actually the one thing about Brit's performance that made me somewhat happy. Ask any normal, everyday woman on the street - Brit is NOT fat - she looks like a real woman now. And, have we miraculously forgotten she's had TWO kids?!

Janice Min, editor of US Weekly, comments:

"In that ensemble, you just can't have an ounce of anything extra. Many women wouldn't eat for days if they were wearing that."

Hmmm. So, if Britney were smarter, she would have skipped a few meals. Darn! (snap)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Next time you fly, remember your frock.

Since when was there a dress code for air travel??

Funny how women are supposed to "look sexy" wearing short skirts and low-cut shirts - yet when we do, we're inappropriate.

Oh, and the kicker - check out Southwest Airlines' ad campaign from 1972...

Those pesky extremists are at it again.

Planned Parenthood of the Chicago Area (PP/CA) plans to open the doors of its shiny new health center in Aurora, Illinois this month. This is fantastic news, since so many women are members of the uninsured club, and rely on Planned Parenthood for essential reproductive health care.

Of course, the creepy anti-choicers aren't so pleased. The Chicago area is home to some of the most extreme weirdos of the pro-life movement. Take Joe Scheidler, who founded the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL) back in 1980. He's been referred to as "the Green Beret of the pro-life movement" by Pat Buchanan, and has said, "You can try for 50 years to do it the nice way, or you can do it next week the nasty way."

The Scheidler family and PLAL are currently staging a "40 Days for Life" vigil outside the new clinic. Basically, they're asking their supporters to keep a presence 24/7 for 40 days. It's supposed to be a peaceful protest, with lots of praying. Participants are also encouraged to fast for the 40 days - because apparently, that's how one gets God's attention.

If starving really gets God's attention, I don't think people in Ethiopia would be so skinny.

In addition, Scheidler's son, Eric, has said in reference to the vigil, "We're going to destroy their building peacefully but aggressively."

Makes me feel all warm inside.

On a more hopeful note, Planned Parenthood is asking supporters to sign this petition and have a ribbon donated to the clinic in your name. It only takes a few seconds, and it shows your support for the women of Aurora.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

If you can't do the time, better have that kid...

Journalist/columnist/novelist and oh-so-fucking-cool Anna Quindlen did a piece for Newsweek last month on how right-wing weirdos want abortion to be illegal...but can't seem to give a straight answer when asked about the appropriate penalty for a woman who has the procedure.

As usual, prayer is the answer for everything... (rolls eyes)

This question has taken on a life of its own, and pro-choice advocates across the country are making it a national conversation. The staff at Allentown Women's Center in Pennsylvania has even made their own YouTube video, putting pressure on presidential candidates who support criminalizing abortion services. Love the sarcasm, ladies!


Happy Birthday, R4R!

I've been kicking around the idea of starting a meaningful, fun, feminist-issues-oriented blog for a while - and here's what I've given birth to.

The idea of writing this first post has been a bit intimidating for me - what pressure to explain the ideas, content, goals, direction and overall essence that is (will be) this blog! I've come to the conclusion that I can't. No, I'm not being lazy, I'm being practical. No one can look at two infants and say, "This one's gonna to be a optometrist and that one's gonna be a mindless coke head." Nope. They will grow and develop into whatever they will eventually be - and that's all I have to say about R4R at this time. Let's see what the future holds...